Coding in the Classroom

Not every child will grow up to be a historian, yet there is value in teaching history. Not every child will be a mathematician, yet there is importance in teaching math. What about teaching computational thinking? Computational thinking is a way of describing and solving problems that applies higher level critical thinking. How can programming be a productive addition to an already overloaded curriculum? Consider this quote from Steve Jobs.

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”

— STEVE JOBS, THE LOST INTERVIEW

AgentSheets Logo
AgentSheets is a software program that lets you create your own agent-based games and simulations using drag and drop, rule-based programming. For more information on AgentSheets and Scalable Game Design, visit scalablegamedesign.org.

Programming encourages children to use technology to solve problems, first by designing games, then by transitioning to STEM-oriented simulations. Learning to program with Scalable Game Design and AgentSheets software introduces computational thinking patterns using motivational and interesting methods tied to the core subjects. The benefits include enriching learning, elevating critical thinking and expanding 21st century and STEM skills.

eMINTS is offering a course in Scalable Game Design. The pilot begins in August and the course will be offered again in the spring. If you are interested in coding in the classroom, please fill out our eLearning interest form.

Carla Chaffin is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Time to Register for the 2014 eMINTS Conference!

It is that time of year again, when educators from near and far make plans to attend the annual eMINTS National Center Conference.  This exciting event takes place Feb 26-Feb 28 at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia, MO and is designed for anyone who is passionate about learning, teaching, and connecting with technology.

register2014_cropped

If you have never before attended this conference, please accept this invitation.

eMINTS teachers, trainers, technicians, and administrators  are looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. They are preparing session workshops and designing their materials, selecting activities, resources and choosing strategies that can be taken back and used by participants almost immediately and in practically any learning environment.

The Keynote speakers will be Dr. Alex Repenning – “‘Excuse me, I need better Artificial Intelligence!‘ Igniting Students’ Intrinsic Math Motivation through Game Design” and Dr. Wesley Fryer – “Mapping Media to the Common Core”.

There are also two brand new opportunities that take place during the conference this year.  On Wednesday afternoon, there is a pre-conference 2.5 hour session called the “eMINTS Academy”.  During this session, eMINTS Instructional Specialists will be showcasing several custom PD offerings.  Actual activities from those recent and upcoming sessions will be delivered to participants.

On Wednesday and Thursday evening, the eMINTS community will gather to have the very first Camp eMINTS”.  This event will have a guest speakers, group sharing, games and resources that will be sure to allow attendees to help build professional relationships.

Both the eMINTS Academy and Camp eMINTS are free!

To register and find more information, visit http://www.emints.org/conference-2014/

Doug Caldwell, EdS, is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

My Conference Highlights #emints

While back in the office reflecting on this past week, I must admit I was sad to see the eMINTS National Conference come to an end. All of the presentations I attended were really excellent and truly inspiring.  If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, I highly encourage you make it next year. Conferences always tend to re-spark my love of education – I leave with so many fresh ideas and tools, it would be impossible to share them all in one blog post. We promise to share these great ideas, tools and more with you in this blog over the next few months but, for now, here are my top four moments from the conference:

 

  • PictureThursday Keynote Speaker, Ken Shelton: Ken spoke about “Generation Now”, focusing on three themes: Information Literacy, Digital Citizenship, and Publication and Collaboration. Not only was his presentation informative, his slides were beautifully designed and well thought out. A hot topic of the conference came from this session when Ken brought up “selfies”, sharing a video spoof on Instagram to remind students that, once you post a photo online, it’s out there and there is no going back.  For those who don’t know, a “selfie” is a picture taken of yourself that is usually intended to be uploaded to a social networking site.
  • Friday Keynote Speaker, Howie DiBlasi: Dr. Howie went over the habits of highly effective 21st century classrooms, at one point posing the question of whether we were ready for the next generation of students. His presentation was fast-paced and fun, sharing many inspirational videos and current tools to help us prepare students for the changing world we live in. His presentation inspired some great ideas for future blog posts on building 21st century skills, so keep checking back for this in the next couple weeks.
  •  Falling Falling, Falling (A Model Lesson): This session was discussed in the last post, so I won’t go into too much detail at this time — but this was one of my favorite sessions of the conference. Doug Caldwell and Glen Westbroek presented a model eMINTS lesson with the session attendees as the students. We got to set up tracks of dominos and record how fast they fell, based on various factors. It was super neat to see, from the student perspective, how current online tools can be used in a hands-on lesson that promotes real-world thinking and uses the eMINTS instructional model. A big bonus of this session is that they provided everything you need to implement this lesson in your own classroom via a LiveBinder, which you can access here.
  • QR codes and the Four C’s: One of the last sessions on Friday, I ‘d consider this to be one of the more energetic sessions I attended. Shelly Tarter gave us an interactive presentation on QR codes and how they can be used with the 4 C’s of education:  Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. We got hands-on experience using QR codes, learned the difference between static and dynamic QR codes, and brainstormed possible uses in groups — all while having fun. You could tell this presentation was a favorite by how the conversation continued long after it ended.  Shelly put together a great Weebly site for this presentation, which you can view here.


These were only a few of my favorite moments of the conference, but every attendee had a different schedule with a different experience. Question: What were some the highlights of your own 2013 eMINTS Conference experience?

[This post was provided by Zoe Hyatt, an instructional developer for the eMINTS National Center and eLearning for Educators.]

Edutopia Features eMINTS and Hartville

Click for link to Edutopia: Schools that Work

On July 25, the Edutopia’s Schools That Work profiles the eMINTS program as it has been implemented in the Hartville R-II School District located in Hartville, MO. The Hartville School District has implemented the eMINTS program at multiple grade levels from elementary through high school over the past seven years. The district was selected by Edutopia not only for its high levels of performance on standardized assessments but also for its strong showing on other measures of student performance such as graduation rate, number of students completing advanced courses, and career education placements.

Edutopia, sponsored by the George Lucas Foundation, is a digital treasure trove of resources, ideas, and communication opportunities for educators, parents, and others who are interested in improving the K-12 learning process. Edutopiahighlights evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their future education, careers, and adult lives.

Edutopia film crews visited the eMINTS National Center offices and the Hartville School District in April to capture footage about the eMINTS professional development programs and how they were implemented in Hartville. The crew interviewed program leaders, Monica Beglau and Lorie Kaplan, about the ways that eMINTS helps teachers learn how to integrate technology into classrooms so that learning can be transformed.

The interviews provide insight into how eMINTS professional development is one of the few programs that has lasting positive impacts on how teachers teach. The crew travelled to Hartville to film an eMINTS professional development session and then followed teachers into their classrooms to observe how the professional development changed their practice.

In addition to the feature video, eMINTS has shared program resources that teachers can use in their classrooms to integrate technology in more effective ways.

eMINTS Conference: Session 1 (Thursday)

Don’t Bookmark It – LIVEBINDER it!

Roger Brallier of Mexico School District helps educators organize all of their online resources in ONE central location through Livebinders. This simple and easy-to-use online virtual “3-ring binder” is a great time saver for teachers. With Livebinders, one can create links to sites, files, even use it to organize a WebQuest. The best part might be that Livebinders is FREE!

Standards-based Grading – How to Get There

Becky Schafer of Mexico Middle School shares how to give a grade that truly represents what a student has learned in their class. The objective of this session is to review standards-based grading, from a teacher’s viewpoint. Participants learned how to make the transition from traditional grading to standards-based grading. Becky walked participants through the process, sharing challenges and accolades.

SMART Board 800

Laura Brockman, a SMART Technologies trainer, demonstrates how collaborative learning becomes an extraordinarily natural experience with the SMART Board® 800 series interactive whiteboard. Two people can instantly work together anywhere on the surface at the same time using either their fingers or a pen. This interactive whiteboard also features a multiuser Pen Tray with buttons that make it easy for users to switch ink color, right-mouse click and bring up the On-Screen Keyboard.

Design Patterns 2.0

WebQuest guru Bernie Dodge shows how the best WebQuests are those built around tasks that resemble the authentic work that people do outside of school. Design patterns provide us with a way to describe that work and make it easier to create WebQuests that better prepare our students for life. This session is the world premier of a new set of design patterns that will kick lessons up a notch. Basically, Bernie suggests teachers anchor their content in a person, place, thing, activity, or problem. Then, students do something with that anchor, involving the verbs deciding, designing, creating, analyzing, or predicting. Bernie’s presentation can be found here.

eMINTS Instructional Specialists Smackdown!

Presenters introduce participants to Web 2.0 tools, resources, and lesson ideas that they can integrate into their instruction. The session is a high energy smackdown of sorts with eMINTS Instructional Specialists from around the state sharing their favorite Web 2.0 tools, resources and lesson ideas. There will be more posted on this session by the end of the day including the resources shared.

District-wide eMINTS Initiative & Implementation – eMINTS ETS Tools and Tricks for Survival

Presenter Nicole Whitfield of Morgan County R-II School District  shares tips, tricks and tools to consider when implementing eMINTS district-wide and how to survive the process as an eMINTS ETS, technology coordinator or administrator. The goal of the presentation is to communicate to participants how our rural Missouri district implemented an initiative to bring eMINTS professional development and technology into classrooms PK-12 and how she survived training 50+ teachers over two years (Comprehensive, eMINTS4All and modified program teachers).

To follow all the eMINTS Conference action, return to this blog and follow the hashtag #eC12.

Monday Message: December 5, 2011

Happy Monday, dear readers! I hope you are staying warm as Winter struggles to take hold of our spirits as well as our wardrobes. Also in play is the holiday season as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Winter Solstice are fast approaching. So, things are moving here as well as in the schools.

With the wintry winds and seasonal festivities, eMINTS is unveiling its new website. You’ll find it at the same URL, but the look is completely different and a little more user friendly. Personally, I also think it’s aesthetically more pleasing. Be sure to stop by and see what has changed.

Monday Message: October 3, 2011

Happy October, everyone!

Missouri Host Teachers Needed for Peer Visits:  Missouri eMINTS teachers that have completed comprehensive eMINTS professional development or are currently in their second year of comprehensive eMINTS professional development are invited to participate in the Host Teacher process for peer visits. During year 1 and year 2 of comprehensive eMINTS professional development, teachers in Missouri are required to spend a full day observing an eMINTS teacher’s classroom. These visits are valuable for developing a deeper understanding of how concepts investigated during professional development sessions transfer into practice. We need eMINTS teachers that have completed two years of comprehensive eMINTS professional development in Missouri or are in their second year of comprehensive eMINTS professional development in Missouri to serve as host teachers (eMINTS4ALL veterans or participants are not eligible to serve as host teachers). eMINTS teachers that are selected to serve as a host teacher, will be eligible to receive one of the following “thank you” options:

To initiate the process of becoming a host teacher please complete a short survey located at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5N5ZHPF. eMINTS teachers selected to serve as host teachers will receive a confirmation host teacher email with additional information regarding the process visiting teachers will follow to schedule a peer visit. Questions may be directed to Roxanne Kerwood, PD Materials Coordinator, by email at kerwoodr@emints.org<mailto:kerwoodr@emints.org<mailto:kerwoodr@emints.org%3cmailto:kerwoodr@emints.org>>

eMINTS Winter Conference 2012 Call for Presenters: The call for presenters for the 2012 eMINTS National Center Conference is open!  Yes, for a limited time you can log on to http://emints.org/events/conference2012/presenter.shtml and submit a proposal! (Deadline is Oct. 7)   Don’t miss out on the excitement and fun Feb. 22-24 at the cozy Stony Creek Inn in Columbia, MO. BONUS-One presenter per accepted presentation proposal receives free registration for the 2012 eMINTS conference.  Be part of the excitement, be part of the learning, be part of the fun!  Be part of the 2012 eMINTS National Center Conference!  See you there!

New eThemes for the week of October 3, 2011

Grammar: Punctuation: Quotations<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/312>

These sites focus on the use of quotations. The sites are primarily text-based. Other punctuation types are included. Reading levels vary.

Health: Metabolism<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/315>

These sites are about metabolism and the process of metabolism. Learn about metabolism, factors that affect metabolic rate, converting food intake into energy, and staying balanced. Includes lesson plans, interactive materials, and a physical activity calorie-use chart. There are also links to eThemes Resources on diet and nutrition, and obesity.

Literature Awards: Michael L. Printz 2005<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/61>

Find out which books won the 2005 Michael L. Printz award. The award is given by the American Library Association to books for young adults that exemplify literary excellence. Includes author information, activities, and excerpts from the books. There are links to eThemes on other book awards for young adult novels.

Literature Awards: Show Me Readers Award Nominees 2004-2005<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/42>

These websites are about the books and authors nominated for the Show Me Readers Award in 2004-2005. Find out which books were nominated and which books won. Read more about the authors. Also includes activities, lesson plans, and book reviews.

Literature Awards: Show Me Readers Award Nominees 2005-2006<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/150>

These websites are about the books and authors nominated for the Show Me Readers Award in 2005-2006. Find out which books were nominated, and read more about the authors. Also includes activities, lesson plans, and book reviews.

Literature: “The Best Halloween Ever” by Barbara Robinson<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/287>

These websites are about the book “The Best Halloween Ever,” author Barbara Robinson, and Halloween. There are reviews of the book, an excerpt from the book, and Halloween-themed math lesson plans. Includes links to eThemes on Halloween and other Robinson books.

Literature: “The House of Dies Drear” by Virginia Hamilton<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/276>

These websites are about the book “The House of Dies Drear” and author Virginia Hamilton. Includes lesson plans, quizzes, excerpts, and games. There are links to eThemes resources on writing mysteries and the Underground Railroad.

Literature: Realistic Fiction and Fantasy Genres for Children<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1962>

These sites provide definitions of realistic fiction and fantasy genres, book lists, and activities. Interactive activities for students to evaluate literature and create a genre bookmark are given. Watch the video interview with Beverly Cleary, author of the realistic fiction “Henry Huggins” series and the fantasy series of “The Mouse and the Motorcycle”. Included is eThemes resource about genres.

Masonry: Control Joints<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/64>

These sites are about control joints as part of a high school masonry class. Students can also explore information on masonry as a career.

Missouri: Regional Foods<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/63>

These sites feature some of the regional foods from different parts of Missouri. Includes traditional recipes, famous foods, and stories about the foods. An eThemes resource on Pioneer Life Food is included.

Model United Nations Preparation<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/174>

These sites feature tips and resources on Model United Nations Preparation. Information about UN roles in peacekeeping, peacekeeping operations and missions, rules of engagement, and UN charter are included.

Native Americans: Goshutes<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/163>

These websites are about the Goshute Indian tribe in Utah. Read about the people, their history, and their culture. Includes information about the temporary nuclear storage facility the Goshutes want to have on their reservation. There are links to eThemes resources on Native American culture and Utah history.

Nobel Prize<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/188>

Find out about the Nobel Prize and its creator, Alfred Nobel. Read the biographies of Nobel Prize winners and take quizzes about the prize. One website includes a video clip of an interview with two Nobel Prize winners. Includes a link to an eTheme on President Jimmy Carter who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Technology: Computer Troubleshooting and End-of-Year Maintenance<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/53>

The following web sites have tips and suggestions on how to properly use and maintain computers. Find out how to diagnose and troubleshoot various computer problems. Learn how to do end-of-year cleaning of hardware and software. Learn how to perform error check, disk scan, and defrag of hard drives. There is an eThemes resource on computer basics.

Technology: SMART AirLiner Wireless Slates<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/189>

These sites offer ideas for SMART AirLiner Wireless Slates usage ideas, resources, and classroom activities. Includes a white paper, basic guidelines, and a podcast about SMART AirLiners.

Technology: Windows Movie Maker<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/30>

These sites help readers learn how to use Windows Movie Maker. Videos, step-by-step instructions, tips and tricks, and tutorials are included.

Videoconferencing<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/168>

Find out the benefits of videoconferencing. Learn about different types of videoconferencing, equipment, participating companies, and classroom layouts. Learn how to prepare, plan, set up a room, start and end videoconferencing. Includes images and video files of examples of successful videoconferences, tips for teachers, and in-class projects and activities.

World War II: Guadalcanal<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/70>

These sites for older students explain about the Battle of Guadalcanal. Read first-hand accounts from American and Japanese soldiers. Learn about the naval and air defenses and read about the history of this battle. Includes maps, timelines, and photographs. There is a link to an eThemes Resource on World War II.

Updated eThemes for the week of October 3, 2011

Literature: Genres<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/850>

Learn about the genres of literature. These sites are about the many different genres: fantasy, historical, realistic, science fiction, biography, reference, reporting, folk tales, plays, and poetry. Some sites have recommended reading lists. Included are eThemes resources covering the various genres.

Math: Geometry: Composing and Decomposing Shapes<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1256>

These sites are about composing and decomposing shapes. Learn how to subdivide, combine, and transform shapes to form new polygons. There are interactive games, activities, and lesson plans. Included are three eThemes resources on shapes, transforming shapes, and pattern blocks and tangrams with related activities.

Matter: Properties: Tools for Measuring and Observing<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/384>

These sites compile simple tools that are used for measuring and observing the properties of matter such as thermometers, rulers, and balances. Includes games and lesson plans. There are also links to eThemes Resources on Matter: Properties and Metric Measurement.

Natural Disasters: Tsunamis: Indian Ocean<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/385>

These sites have information about the devastating tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in December of 2004. Animations, maps, photographs, and movies are found on several sites. Included is an eThemes resource on the general topic of tsunamis.